Chapter 1: Homecoming
And so the shenanigans of an explorer, a painter, a bar, and a runaway chicken begin. Begins shortly after the final chapter of "The Line Between Sea and Sky."
It had been two years since Moana had last found herself wandering through these streets, staring up at the never-ending skyscrapers towering above her. She stood there at the entrance of the airport terminal, sighing wistfully as she took in the familiar, welcoming chaotic site around her. She was back.
This time, she was home.
And now, the young woman was armed with purpose, full of determination. For the next four years, she had but one purpose, one mission- to find a way to revitalize Montunui’s habitat and to save her home. In San Fransokyo, there were so many more people, so many more minds put together. Moana knew that it was here she would have the resources to find that answer she needed, and nothing in the world could stop her now.
She took a deep breath, a determined glimpse in her eyes before she headed onward, fully ready to take on the world laid out in front of her. The winding streets were loud and crowded, but Moana was anything but overwhelmed. This was her homecoming; it had been far too long since she had seen so many souls intertwined with one another- a network so vast that it seemed endless. She no longer cared about the onlookers beside her. She practically danced through the streets, her body ready to burst at every inch with joy. The noise was like an orchestra; there were so many distant voices and sounds overlapping one another at each moment, they created their own song.
It was magnificent.
Moana hummed to herself, sauntering along as she meandered through the streets. She had a map and no strict schedule to adhere to before settling into her dorm, so she was free to wander and explore as her heart pleased. As she hummed along to herself, amidst the noise Moana suddenly caught the sound of another voice, singing along in perfect harmony. Moana halted, looking around curiously. There stood a young woman at the edge of an alleyway nearby. She must have been no older than her, eighteen at most. She was doused in paint as her arm flew across the side of a plaster wall in front of her, her brush gracefully following her every harmonic movement.
Moana tilted her head, watching curiously for a few moments before picking up the tune once again. The stranger’s brush stopped, and her hand fell to her side. She glanced over her shoulder, seemingly just as intrigued as Moana. The two girls locked eyes, suddenly both bursting into laughter in surprise.
The woman set her brush down, tossing her long, golden braid over her shoulder and letting her hand slip into the pockets of her overalls. She had the longest hair Moana had ever seen; her braid extended down to her ankles, which only made her wonder how long it actually was. Moana tucked her own dark curls behind her ear as she stepped forward to greet her.
“I never thought I’d meet someone here who’d heard of that song,” she smiled, openly extending a hand towards the stranger.
The girl smiled back, gladly returning the gesture as a warm, welcoming aura danced between them.
“Same here!” she beamed. Her eyes drifted downward and she gasped, immediately retracting her hand as she’d realized she had mistakenly gotten paint on Moana’s as well. "Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to-"
Moana looked down in surprise, laughing nonchalantly when she caught sight of the pink smear across her palm.
“You’re fine! I like pink, anyways.”
The blonde dashed over to her supplies, handing her a fresh towel. Moana took it, wiping her hand a she continued, gazing up at the mural behind her. It was a depiction of the constellations, so many and vivid that it reminded her of the stars she would chart back on the seas around Montunui. Her eyes fell on a particular shape, its stars coming together to form the shape of a rather familiar fish hook. Moana chuckled, glancing back at the artist.
“That’s really gorgeous, by the way.”
“Oh! Thanks!” the blonde chirped happy, taking her compliment to heart. “It’s a commission for the store next door.”
“Woah, now that’s pretty neat,” she enthusiastically replied.
“Yeah,” the girl nodded, looking back at her work bashfully. “It’s pretty small compared to the one I’m doing for San Fransokyo Tech. But it’s alright, I guess.”
“Wait. You go to SF Tech?!” Moana excitedly interjected.
“No, no!” the girl reassured, shaking her head. “I just got commissioned by the faculty. I go to the SF College of Art and Design. Why, you know someone there?”
Moana grinned proudly. “Sure do. Just flew in for orientation!”
“No way! Welcome to San Fransokyo!” The girl beamed, jumping excitedly on her toes. She suddenly paused, her eyes widening as if she'd realized she'd forgotten something.
“I’m Rapunzel, by the way!”
She extended a hand again. Moana chuckled, her bubbly optimism nature reminding her of an old friend. Too polite to turn her down, she shook her hand again.
“Nice to meet you, Rapunzel. I’m Moana.”
Rapunzel squatted down, gathering up all of her supplies into her dufflebag. “Well, Miss Moana, if you’re not heading anywhere in particular, perhaps I could show you around the city? Have you visited before?”
Moana nodded her head. She was no stranger to San Fransokyo’s winding roads, but she couldn’t resist the opportunity to make a new friend here and there.
“I’m sure you must know way more than me though,” she added, leaning over to watch her as she crossed her hand behind her back. Rapunzel looked back at her, smiling confidently.
“I really haven’t been here that long. But…I know a few places.”
Rapunzel wasn’t kidding. Every time Moana such as looked at a store window, she would already know the name of the shop, and in many cases, she had some personal story to go along with it. It was as if the girl had made it her personal mission to memorize the entirety of downtown San Fransokyo in the year she herself had been there. Moana wasn’t sure she could recite the ins and outs of Montunui as well, and she’d lived there her entire life. She had quickly learned to not let her eyes linger on any store in particular that she didn’t want to hear much about, otherwise they would have probably been there for the next twenty minutes. Not that she minded so much, though. The way Rapunzel told her stories was more than entertaining.
But Moana quickly abandoned that plan as her eyes fell on a far too familiar sign. Her face fell, the voices around her silenced by her thoughts as she looked through the window of the café beside her. An ache shot through her heart as she watched a familiar woman at the front counter, chatting away with a customer as she showed them some of her pastries on display.
Rapunzel tilted her upper torso to the side, her head falling against her shoulder as she watched her new friend curiously.
“You know this place?”
Moana jolted, immediately coming back to reality.
“No! I just…I- it’s complicated,” she managed, stumbling over her words horrifically.
Rapunzel’s eyes softened, quietly understanding a vague idea of the situation. She looked back ahead, and in a sudden twist to Moana, failed to mention anything else about the café.
“Come on! There’s this great place I know for lunch. You’re gonna love it.”
“Are we legally allowed to be here?” Moana asked worriedly, wincing as her eyes accidentally met with the large thug sitting next to them at the bar. He sneered, glaring into her sole before turning back to the company beside him.
Rapunzel laughed as she watched the two of them. “As long as you stick to the right part of the menu. They’re really not bad here, I promise. Like Attila over there, his cupcakes are killer.”
The blonde young woman over pointed to the masked thug working toward the back of the bar. He caught sighed of her, his shady demeanor suddenly falling away into a pleasant one as he enthusiastically waved at her. Rapunzel giggled, waving back.
“See? They’re really just a bunch of softies,” she reassured. Moana blinked as Attila approached them with a skip in his step, offering a plate of sugared pastries. Her eyes darted between his mask and the plate, unsure of how to react.
“Go on,” Rapunzel whispered, scooting on her stool towards her. “They’re really good, I promise.”
Trying to help convince Moana, she took one from the plate first and bite into it. “Man, you’re totally missing out!”
Feeling a bit more confident, Moana followed suited. She gasped as she took a bite, shocked at how actually delicious the pasty was. Heck, it might have even rivaled Cass’s donuts back at the Lucky Cat Café!
She giggled, taking as she took another bite. “Okay, I admit it. These are amazing!”
“I know right!” Rapunzel mused, waving back to her friend as he returned to the kitchen.
“How did you even find this place?” Moana asked, swallowing as she wipped the powdered sugar off her hands with a napkin.
“Oh, my boyfriend toke me here on a bet once.”
“A bet?” Moana blinked.
“He thought I would chicken out,” Rapunzel grinned cockily, leaning back against the counter.
Moana laughed. “Sounds like an interesting guy.”
“Once you get to know him,” Rapunzel reassured happily.
The two girls took their time. As it turned out, the rest of the company at the bar was full of equally entertaining surprises. There was a man with a hook hand who had the best piano skills Moana had ever heard; another was an interior design expert and had even helped with some of the buildings at SF Tech. One was even an artist, like her friend, and Moana came out of the bar laughing away with Rapunzel, an expertly crafted ceramic unicorn in her back pocket. She adjusted her backpack on her shoulders as they found their way back onto the sidewalk. She looked up at the sky as they chatted away, watching the atmosphere turn from a light blue to a gorgeous violet lined in orange. Just like home.
“So, do you need a tour guide back to the SFT campus?” Rapunzel offered with a yawn, glancing over at Moana. She grinned back at her, grateful for the offer.
“I think I’ll just catch a bus down the street, but thanks,” she replied.
“Alright, sounds good,” Rapunzel nodded. “I think I’m gonna head in for the night, but call me if you ever need someone to chill downtown with!”
“Will do!” Moana grinned and waved, watching her trail off across the street. Rapunzel turned around, broadly waving back at her one last time before heading home.
Moana collapsed on her unmade mattress, her head reeling too quickly from the events of that day to even bother making it. Besides, she hadn’t a dormmate to share the room with, so who would there be to judge her for waiting a bit to unpack?
Moana’s eyes widened as the realization hit her, sitting straight up in her bed. The rest of her luggage had been delivered to her room nearly an hour before…where were Hei Hei and Pua?! Frantically darting around the room, the young woman caught her sights on a post-it note stuck to the back of her door. She turned on the overhead light, squinting to read it as her eyes adjusted to the brightness.
“Dear Miss Waialiki, pigs and chickens are not under the permitted list of pets allowed at the dorms according to the handbook, written under section 7-D. We are currently keeping your pets at the front desk of the Student Admissions office. Please come as soon as possible to pick them up. There will be a $50 fine per animal.
The Student Government Association”
Moana groaned, knocking her forehead against the door in exasperation. So much for an easy first day. Grumbling to herself beneath her breath, she snatched her purse, heading off to save them. Lost in frustrated thought, she trudged across the school garden at the center of the campus, only stopping when she heard an all too familiar squawk from not that far off. The young woman froze, standing straight as her eyes widened with shock.
There was Hei Hei, making a mad dash across the edge of the lawn. Two security guards were chasing after the chicken, who seemed to be headed straight for the robotics building.
“HEI HEI!” Moana screeched, sprinting across the yard and running after him.
Of all the places in the world, she was not letting him break into that building.
Chapter 2: The Absentminded Chicken
Hei Hei causes more trouble on the SFIT campus. Chaos ensues.
Hi, everyone! Sorry about the ridiculously long break between chapters. After writing the first story so quickly, I decided to take a couple week break to plot the next few chapters, which in turn accidentally became a several month break due to trying to survive my last semester as an undergrad.
Thanks for bearing with me! I should be able to post much more regularly now. ^_^
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The chicken, despite its lean build and unassuming size, was quite the force to be reckoned with. Its gaze darting in uneven directions as it somehow managed to avert every attempt the security guard made to grab him. The other guard, following behind, noticed the young woman frantically running towards them and signaled for her to stay back.
"M'am, we have this situation under control."
Hei Hei paused, most likely from sensing Moana's presence. She looked back at the officer, trying to catch her breath as she gave him a skeptical look.
"Yes, my chicken. Running across the courtyard. Everything is totally under control," she replied flatly, doning a cross expression.
"This is your pet, m'am?"
The young woman nodded. "I was on my way to retrieve him from the security office. I-I have a letter here."
The officers both gave a heafty sigh of relief as she passed it to them, looking back at one another. Moana silently winced. If she hadn't been in that much trouble before, she sure was now. But as one of the officers opened his mouth to reply, Hei Hei suddenly squawked, his head wobbling as it darted back and forth between the robotics lab and his friend. Moana frowned, knowing all too well where this was headed.
"Hei Hei, no," she warned, crossing her arms at the fowl.
The chicken squawked again, idly staring up at her.
"Hei Hei..." Moana repeated worriedly. She took a step forward, opening up her arms as she bent down, trying to urge the chicken to come foward.
And with that, the he was off, headed straight for the robotics lab.
"HEI HEI!" Moana cried in exasperation, darting down the sidewalk after him.
"H-hey, wait!" one of the guards called to her, both trying to follow after the duo.
For such an absentminded fowl, Hei Hei was by far one of the trickiest nuisances Moana dealt with at times. The chicken bobbed its head back and forth, clucking intermittently as it zigzagged across the sidewalk towards the building. By all accounts, either Moana or the guards should have caught up to him by now.
But then again, Hei Hei was anything but a normal chicken.
Moana smirked as they approached the tinted front door, realizing that the chicken had only two options- right or left. The good news being that he, at the very least, was not going to break into the lab any time soon. And then, without a moment's hesitation, his entire body splatted against the front door.
The young woman skidded to a stop, blinking in utter disbelief at her beloved pet's own idiocy. The fowl gave a weary cluck, still stuck against the glass door. Moana groaned, burying her head into her hands in mortification. She sighed, bending down beside her poor friend as she helped him off the glass.
"There you go, bud-"
The door suddenly swung open, and a familiar voice rang out, causing Moana's heart to skip a beat, her entire body frozen in place.
Sorry this chapter is a bit short. I wanted to get back into the swing of things with some lighthearted comedy. I can never resist ending on a cliffhanger, of course.
Chapter 3: Reunion
I’ve finally got my inspiration back! Had a lot of fun writing this one. This chapter is a bit longer than usual, as it was originally supposed to be split into two chapters, but since the hiatus on “Skylines” was so long, I didn’t want to keep anyone waiting longer. I hope you guys enjoy! ^^
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Wasabi blinked down at Moana, who was still frozen stiff. She finally managed to come to senses, tilting her head to look up at the young man. At least it wasn’t, Hiro, she reminded herself.
At least it wasn’t him.
“Wasabi!” Moana replied enthusiastically, pulling herself together as she rose to her feet, Hei Hei nestled wearily in her arms. She forced a smile, trying to act composed. “I-it’s been a long time, hasn’t it?”
“Yeah, it has,” he agreed, darting concerned glances between her and the chicken. Moana braced herself for the barrage of questions that were inevitably about to come. But as quickly as she did so, Wasabi’s gaze darted to the security guards finally managing to catch up behind her. His eyes widened a bit as he panicked, standing up straighter.
“I wish I could say this is the strangest thing I’ve seen on campus this week,” the young man murmured, still trying to process the scene.
Moana’s posture drooped, already knowing what was behind her. Grimacing, she turned around to face the men, giving them a sheepish smile.
“I…I got the chicken!” she tried to point out, adjusting her hold on Hei Hei, who gave another delirious squawk. The guards exchanged glances before looking back at the young woman, neither of them seeming any bit amused. Moana pouted, knowing she was absolutely done for. Not only did Hei Hei manage to cause her a heap of trouble her first day on campus, but who knew where she would be allowed to keep him and Pua for the remainder of the semester.
She turned back to Wasabi, giving him an apologetic smile. “Looks like I gotta head back to security,” she sighed, her eyes sifting away from him.
The uneasy feeling in her stomach told her that things were about to get a lot worse.
The young man sat idly at his work desk. He watched through half-opened lids, his head resting on a forearm against the table, as his fingers fidgeted with a pencil, the eraser tip half-chewed through. He quietly watched the pencil roll back and forth through his wild bangs, which were obscuring half of the vision in his left eye.
His legs were slightly stretched out beneath the desk. His most recent growth spurt had left him nearly too tall to sit comfortably in his chair. He kept telling himself that he would get around to adjusting it eventually. He lifted his head slightly, looking up at the translucent screen on his laptop, the blank document staring back at him.
Washed up again at sixteen. Figures.
Hiro stretched and yawned, his converse lightly knocking the back of desk as his limbs spread out. Maybe a walk would help clear out his mind and give him some sort of idea. He cracked his neck and shut the computer screen, pushing himself away from the desk. He grabbed his backpack and slung it over his shoulder. He paused for a minute, smiling softly as he walked by Tadashi’s old hat, giving a slight nod before heading out the door.
His hand on the handle, the young man paused, caught off-guard. He slid back, his head poking over the edge of his studio wall to look out the window. He squinted, trying to get a better view. From the second floor up, he should have been able to make out the scene fairly well, but without his contacts, he struggled to make out the finer details.
There were two security guards leading a young woman, her hair dark and wild, away from the lab. Something seemed to be struggling in her arms, though he couldn’t make out quite what it was. The teen squinted a bit more, just barely able to make out Wasabi standing by the door.
Time for a little adventure to get the brain chugging along.
Curiosity getting the best of his boredom, the young man flew out the door. Both GoGo and Honey looked up from their stations as he flew by them, nearly tripping into GoGo’s suspended bike along the way.
“Hey, watch it!” she scolded, flipping up her visor and pointing a wrench at him. But he seemed to not even have noticed, already long out of the lab and down the hall. Hiro was surely up to something, but there was hardly any sense trying to get him to slow down once he had an idea in his head.
Hiro slid down the stair railing, not even bothering to take his time fidgeting with the elevator. So caught up in his own thoughts, he nearly ran into Wasabi as he dashed into the lobby.
“Woah, little man! Careful there!” Wasabi replied, grasping his shoulders to keep the teen at an arm’s length. Though, to be frank, Hiro had ceased to be little long ago, his most recent growth spurt leaving him only about five inches or so below Wasabi’s own height.
Hiro blinked, crashing back down to reality. He stepped back, dancing excitedly on the balls of his feet.
“Saw you with security a few minutes ago,” he sang, a mischievous look in his eye.
“Oh, no, no no,” Wasabi quickly defended himself. “Just happened to walk in on a,” he paused for a moment, trying to find the most appropriate way to explain what had just happened. “…a chicken chase.”
“A what?” Hiro laughed in disbelief.
“Yeah,” Wasabi gave an exasperated breath. “Trust me, that wasn’t even the most awkward part. You know, you could have mentioned Moana was back in town. She kept giving me this shocked look like I’d forgotten her.”
Caught off guard, Hiro’s body stiffened. It was a name he hadn’t heard in a painfully long time. He must have heard Wasabi wrong. She’d left for Montunui two years ago, never leaving him a single word. Why would she ever want to turn up here again?
“What?” Wasabi blinked, confused by the kid’s reaction.
“Y-you said Moana was here?” he stumbled, his voice uneven and weak as he forced the words out.
“Yeah,” Wasabi replied, starting to feel rather concerned. “S-she told you she was coming, right?”
Hiro’s eyes quickly diverted to the floor as he bit down on his bottom lip, his gaze mostly hidden away by his bangs. Wasabi’s heart sunk as he immediately knew his answer. No wonder the girl seemed so nervous to see him. Guilt washed over him as his mind raced, trying to think of a way to make light of the situation.
“W-well, she seemed to be in a bit of a hurry, so maybe she didn’t mean t-“
“Where did she go?” Hiro’s voice was suddenly sharp, his eyes narrowed and determined as they look back at his friend. Wasabi’s breath hitched, shocked by the boy’s sudden change in attitude. He knew that look all too well.
“She…she was heading to the security office,” he replied as he haphazardly pointed to the lobby door.
And with that, Hiro was off, nearly knocking Wasabi off his feet as he flew by. He slammed his entire body against the door, running out into the courtyard without the slightest reaction. Wasabi quietly watched him as he fled, his hands seeping into his pockets.
He feared that this wasn’t going to end well for anyone.
Hiro’s jaw clenched, his eyes shut as he ran as fast as he could across the courtyard, fighting to keep his emotions bottled up inside. His mind flashed back to the morning before, the wind flying between him and Baymax as they graced the San Fransokyo skyline.
The words had escaped his lips that morning so suddenly and unexpectedly. He should have known it was a sign. A warning. His stomach was a battleground; sinking dread fought recklessly against nervous butterflies. How was he supposed to feel? Happy? Relieved? Betrayed? Sad? Angry? Every one of those emotions were barraging him at once. And even worse, he had no idea which would be the one to overtake him first when they finally met eye to eye.
He had so much left to say. To apologize for what he’d done when she left. To ask her why she’d never responded to him. To ask her what had happened to her family.
To ask her why she had returned.
Meanwhile, Wasabi burst back into the robotics lab, nearly slamming GoGo into the wall with the door.
“Seriously?!” she shot back, slamming her wrench down on the counter and removing helmet. Her gaze pieced right through Wasabi, sending a chill down his spine. What had put her in such a bad mood?
Not wanting to get involved, he turned to Honey Lemon, GoGo giving an annoyed gesture when it seemed he’d chosen to ignore her completely.
“Honey, is Baymax almost done charging?”
Honey blinked, looking up from her station and removing her safety goggles.
“No idea, why?”
“I think Hiro’s gonna need him.”
Moana’s knees were pressed together, her hands wedged between her thighs as she stared up at the clock across the room. The head of security was busy typing away at his computer, as she had been for about five minutes and twenty seven seconds now.
According to the clock, anyways.
After what had felt like an eternity, the printer made a loud buzz, and Officer Calhoun handed the paperwork to Moana. Despite her stern and unrelenting demeanor, there seemed to be a hint of forgiveness in her eyes.
“Please sign these and have them faxed back to me within the next forty-eight hours. I’ll also need an email or letter from the Chief of Montunui as soon as possible, stating the legal status of your pets according to the local government, along with a record of any past incidents concerning them, if applicable. Also, any special notes about necessary accommodations would be appreciated. The $50 fee for the lack of notification still applies.”
Moana’s face relaxed into a thankful smile, pressing the forms to her chest as she stood. Thank you so much, Officer! I won’t let you down!”
The woman merely replied with a flat look, ushering her hand at the door as she returned to typing on her computer. Moana breathed a sigh of relief. The fee and notice from her father weren’t going to be a walk in the park, but at least her record had remained clear and Hei Hei and Pua could remain with her. It was a victory, if small.
Suddenly, as Moana turned to leave, man in a ranger’s outfit burst through the door. Officer Calhoun looked up once more.
“What is it now, Ranger Pepikrankentiz?”
“There’s, uh, a situation in the lobby,” the man started.
Moana blinked, recognizing the man from her visits to the college years prior.
“Hey, weren’t you the dining hall chef?” Moana asked inquisitively, an amused, crook smirk creeping up upon her lips.
The man’s attention turned to the girl, a bright, innocent smile crossing his face.
“I remember you! You’re that girl with the adorable pig! Yes! As you can see, I’ve been recently…promoted,” he boasted, puffing out his chest to show off his badge. “I’m now the assistant to Officer Calhoun here, and also the Leader of the Squirrel Scouts, SFIT Division.”
Officer Calhoun sighed, rubbing her hand over her face. “Kronk, what’s the situation.”
Kronk turned his attention back to his boss, his posture straightening as he gave a firm salute.
“There was a chicken chase in the courtyard about thirty five minutes ago,” he started. “Though I have been notified by two guards that the situation is in the process of being…handled.”
Officer Calhoun continued to give him a flat look. “Anything else?”
“Oh! Yes! Mister Hamada is requesting to see you and a Miss…” Kronk took out a folded piece of paper from his pocket and squinted, trying to read it. “Moana Waialiki.”
Moana face turned ghastly white. Why hadn’t she remembered to tell Wasabi to keep mum?! Her body began to tremor as a flurry of fear hit her like a hurricane.
Officer Calhoun raised an eyebrow, glancing between the two of them. “Tell him I’m not accepting visitors and to kindly return to whatever little project he’s working on.”
“Right away, m’am,” Kronk saluted before closing the door behind him. Calhoun turned back to Moana, a knowing smirk on her lips.
“Ex-boyfriend?” she asked, a hint of amusement in her eyes.
“O-old friend,” Moana corrected nervously, holding her arm to her side. “It didn’t end well.”
“Good luck hiding from him, kiddo. When that boy gets hellbent on an idea, even I have trouble catching him,” the woman chuckled pulling out a file of paper work and licking her thumb as she sifted through it. She pointed to a small storage closet to the left of her desk, not bothering to look up again.
“There’s an exit door in there if you wanna make a run for it,” she remarked.
“Th-thank you,” Moana managed , taking her up on her offer. “For everything.”
[11:23 p.m. MOANA] So meet up on the pier at 10:15 tomorrow?
[11:24 p.m. PUNZIE] Sounds good J
Moana yawned, locking her phone screen and setting it beside her bed. What a crazy day. Pua was nestled up at the food of her bed, with Hei Hei curled up between his legs. The girl smiled to herself, silently thankful that they were allowed to spend this night together, no matter the cost. She looked out her window, rain softly pelting against it as she scooted down beneath her sheets, quietly looking out at the San Fransokyo skyline.
She was so far from home. But yet, she was home.
There was a knock on the door. Moana sat up, pushing her comforter off her. Hei Hei remained sound asleep as Pua opened one eye and lifted an ear. He and Moana exchanged worried glances. The RA had been notified about Officer Calhoun’s decision on her pets, right?
Using her phone as a flashlight, she made her way across the room. She blinked, hearing someone heavily panting from the other side. She looked down at Pua once more, the small pig sitting at her side as she cautiously opened the door and stepped back.
Her heart skipped a beat.
There stood an older Hiro, towering half foot above her as he stood there like a ghost, shaking from the rain. His hoodie was over his head, completely soaked as his arms were wrapped around himself, his knees knocking together. Water dripped from his bangs as he trembled and looked up at her, his face having elongated and features handsomely sharped with age. He gave a small, crocked smile, that little gap in his teeth still ever-present. His eyes were full of shy innocence.
Author’s note: Wasabi is 6’4”, Moana is 5’5”, and Hiro is 5’11” and still growing.
Chapter 4: Why
“Mother of Te Fiti,” Moana gasped, staring back at him as she ran her fingers through the tangled locks over her forehead.
“Are you serious?”
She wasn’t sure what was more shocking- Hiro having successfully snuck past security into the freshman girls’ dorm building or how he’d managed to find her in the first place. While the shy little face told her he’d come in good graces, Moana still wasn’t exactly amused that he seemed to have little regard for her personal privacy. She furrowed her brow and folded her arms, giving the young man a cross look.
Hiro blinked back at her, his thoughts run to silence. It had been so long, he had forgotten just how gazing at her had made him lose his trail of thought. She was a little taller now- at least it seemed that way. He’d grown so much that it was frankly had to gauge. He snapped out of his daze quickly, catching sight of the unamused expression staring straight back at him.
The teen stuttered, trying to pull himself together. “I- uh, I mean- I didn’t mean to-“
Moana continued to glare back at him, her eyes like daggers.
Hiro guiltily looked away. Damn it, he really hadn’t thought this through.
Moana sighed, a hand slipping over the side of her face. “You broke into the security office again, didn’t you?”
”I broke into the security office,” the teen mumbled, shuffling his feet sheepishly.
Moana sighed, trying to soften her stance a bit as she leaned against the doorway.
“You didn’t need to pull my residence info out behind my back, you know. I was going to get a hold of you…” Moana bit the inside of her cheek, her gaze trailing away. “…eventually. I mean, I just needed a little time to settle in, you know? First day back and all.”
“Yeah…” Hiro replied dejectedly, hugging his arms around himself. They both could see the lie in her words, plain and simple. They hadn’t even spoken once in two years.
A long pause of awkward silence passed between them. Their breaths both shook unevenly, pauses of chill and uncertainty.
“I’ve missed you, idiot,” Moana’s voice finally pattered, her words but a faint whisper. Hiro’s eyes widened, his posture perking back up at the small glimmer of hope. Moana gave a hefty sigh, pulling herself away from the door and opening it up. Pua’s head popped out from behind, squealing up at the young man.
“H-hey, Pua,” Hiro smiled weakly down at the pig, his body still trembling from the damp chill of the air-conditioned hall.
Moana rolled her eyes, gesturing him to follow her in.
“Come on, let’s get you inside before you get caught or die or something. Oh! And also…”
The teen meekly followed suite. Yet just barely had he entered the room did Moana swing her leg around, her knee plummeting full-force into his shin and causing him to fall face forward into the carpet below. He gave a small screech, the rug burning against his forearms. He struggled to pull himself up, only to find a confidently amused Moana standing above him, eyebrow arched with the slyest looking grin.
“Don’t you ever dare try to invade my privacy and steal my information again. Got it, Hamada?”
Hiro could feel his stomach shrivel up in fear as she stared down at him. She was just as fierce as ever.
“Got it,” he mumbled, flashing her an obedient look. The girl’s gaze unstiffened as she suddenly burst into a laugh, holding her side and offering him a hand. Hiro blinked. It wasn’t until he took it that he realized why. A unexpected, comforting warmth flowed through him, the nostalgia coming back as he rose onto his feet.
For just a moment, it was as if nothing had changed. All the confusion, the questions he had. The sadness, the anger. For this one small moment in time, they didn’t matter.
“Here, gimme your jacket,” she called back to him. He peeled it off, the cool air of the fan above prickling his bare forearms. She took it, tossing it over the shower curtain bar in the bathroom to dry out. She returned as he plopped down on the edge of her mattress. He watched her quietly as she rummaged through her half unpacked suitcase. She pulled out a spare blanket, tossing it to him as it landed squarely on his face.
“Wow, your aim has really gotten bad,” she chuckled, leaning back on the wall not too far off. Hiro flashed her a sarcastic look as he wrapped it around himself. He kicked off his converse, pulling his knees into his chest as he stuck out his tongue at her. Moana gave a soft chuckle, her head tilting down as she stared down at her toes and watched them wiggle. Her smiled slowly faded away, the reality of the past slowly sinking back in.
He was so much older now. Time really had flown between them.
Pua wrapped himself around her bare feet, giving a soft little squeal. Moana gave a small, tender smile, watching her friend do his best to comfort her.
Hiro quietly stared down at the carpet below. Other than a puddle trail across the floor, it was virtually spotless. His eyes wandered around the room, noticing the unopened bags and boxes scattered about. She really hadn’t been there long at all. He wanted to promise himself that she had meant to contact him. But even still, he couldn’t truly believe her words deep down. He gave a drawn breath, closing his eyes as he cheek rested on her knees. He could feel his emotions mixing altogether once more. It was like a storm.
A loud, agonizing storm.
They stayed like that for a quite some, the faint sound of the rain hitting the glass window pane outside, echoing through the room. Moana lifted her head just enough to glance at her former friend, still bundled up against himself. She took a shaky breath. She wanted to approach him. To say something. But what was she to say?
Hiro could feel her gaze on him. He looked up, their eyes meeting for just a second before they both looked away.
The rain continued to pelt away at the roof. It remained the only sound between them.
Quiet. Soft, as it pattered on.
Moana’s grip around herself tightened, her eyes shut tight. There it was. She mustered up the strength to finally look up. There he was, still huddled on the mattress, but his gaze was looking right at her. The vulnerability in his eyes, the confusion and subtle frustration. They were all there. Moana wrapped her hand over her chest as it clenched into a first.
“I…I don’t know,” she managed to whisper. The words were so vulnerable, so painful. But they were honest. She had never known why she’d cut him off.
“So much happened so fast. I just….”
He continued to stare at her with that awful gaze.
“I…I wish I knew.”
Hiro furrowed his brow, a bout of anger flashing across his eyes. He tore his eyes away.
“Yeah, me too.”
Moana’s breath tremored, her eyes growing warm and tender. She gently placed a hand over her mouth.
“It…it wasn’t you. I promise, Hiro.”
Hiro’s arms squeezed his knees tightly to his chest. He still couldn’t find the strength in him to believe her. How could she not know?
“My grandmother died, Hiro.”
The boy’s gazed lost its harsh edge, empathy finding its way inside.
“Moana. I…I’m sorry-“
“I had to go home. I didn’t want to. Honestly, by the time it was all over, it…it had been months. I thought…what was the point? I was… I was sure you must have hated me by then. And until I got this scholarship, I thought I’d never be able to come back, you kno-“
“I never hated you, Moana, if you had just called me-“
“I KNOW that now. I told you, Hiro, I don’t know. I’m sorry, okay?!“ Moana’s eyes widened, hearing her voice rise. She bit down on her lip, trying to keep her mouth shut.
“Didn’t you think about how I felt?! You just left me! You ignored everything I sent you!”
“I—You’re right. I didn’t,” her eyes narrowed. “I’m sorry if I was too busy being there as my grandmother was buried to tend to your every need.”
Hiro sighed, slipping off the bed and passing by her.
“Wait, where are you going?” Moana pulled herself off the wall. The young man paused, his hand on the door knob. He didn’t bother to turn back to face her, his teeth gritting together as his bangs hid away the tears forming in his eyes.
“It’s getting late,” his voice clumsily mumbled. Just one message, that’s all he’d ever wanted from her. To tell him what happened. If her grandmother was safe. If she was safe. But it had clearly been too much for her.
And with that, he was gone.